Team Profile: Wichita State at Utah State
Game Information: Wichita State (21-6, 10-5) at Utah State (20-6, 10-2), Midnight ET, Saturday, ESPN2/ESPN360.com
About Wichita State: The Shockers come into this Bracketbuster game desperately needing a win to boost their at-large hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid. They have a tough task going into Logan against Utah State, which is 12-1 at home this season. Wichita State has struggled on the road, posting a 5-5 record. The low-point of the year came when the Shockers lost at Evansville, giving the hosts their only conference win to date.
Sophomore Toure’ Murry leads the team in points and rebounds at 12.6 points and 5.1, respectively. Senior Clevin Hannah is another player to watch. The 5-11 point guard, the only senior on the roster, is averaging 12.3 points and 4.7 assists.
The Shockers only have had a couple of quality wins this season. They defeated Texas Tech at home earlier in the season and then defeated Northern Iowa at home on January 19. A win at Utah State would certainly keep the Shockers in the bubble discussion. Wichita State defeated Cleveland State 70-59 at home in last year’s Bracketbuster game.
About Utah State: The Aggies fly under the radar as one of the most successful mid major teams in the last 10 years, qualifying for postseason play every season. In their 2008-09 campaign, they posted 30 wins and came up just short of pulling off a major first-round upset of Marquette, losing 58-57. Head coach Stew Morrill is in his 12th year as head coach and has an impressive record of 267-91. The high point of his tenure was an upset win over Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2001.
The Aggies are not a team anyone wants to see come March. They have one quality win at home over BYU back in December but missed out on great opportunities to bolster their tournament resumes after losses to St. Mary’s and Northeastern. A win against Louisiana Tech tonight and Wichita State on Saturday would enhance their at-large chances.
The Aggies are led by senior point guard Jared Quayle. Quayle averages 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Tai Wesley is also a guy to keep an eye on. Wesley leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Aggies are fundamentally sounds and they will not easily beat themselves. They rank first in the WAC in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, three-point percentage, and assists, and they also commit the fewest turnovers in the conference. Utah State lost 75-64 at St. Mary’s in last season’s Bracketbuster game.
By The Numbers
Vs. Top 50: 2-2
Last 10: 6-4
FG %: 44.7
FT %: 74.2
3 PT %: 35.5
SOS: 111R/N: 7-5
Vs. Top 50: 1-1
Last 10: 10-0
FG %: 48.7
FT %: 77.43
PT %: 42.6
NCAA Tournament Implications: This may be an elimination game for both teams in terms getting an at-large bid. The winner would not necessarily lock up an NCAA Tournament berth, but would definitely keep itself on the bubble. Both of these teams have similar RPI and strength of schedule numbers, but Wichita State may need this win more. The Shockers have three really bad losses to teams with an RPI under 50. A road win by the Shockers would benefit them even more than a home win for Utah State.
Who Wins?: It’s going to be very difficult for Wichita State to go into Logan and get a victory. They Shockers have no marquee road wins on the year and they turn the ball over a lot, which never helps against a disciplined team. The battle to watch will be on the boards, where both teams do a pretty good job. In the end, the Aggies offensive efficiency combined with their home-court advantage will prove to be too much for the Shockers. Utah State 70, Wichita State 65.